Eric's Beer Blog

My online journal for beer (and other drinks) tasting, brewing, tourism, and general musings.

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Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Avery Old Jubilation

Here are my first attempts at beer photography... This is Avery's Old Jubilation. In my favorite beer glass. I bought a six-pack of this stuff on a whim recently, and I have to say it's one of the better purchases I've made. This is a truly superb beer, especially for the price. It's absolutely gorgeous to look at, which is why I was inspired to photograph it. I think the results are mixed, but hopefully you get some idea-- it has a lovely mahogany brown color, and pours with a nice tan head. The nose is mostly malt, with a touch of alcohol (it's 8%, so I suppose it figures) and a hint of spice.

Malt, malt and more malt: that's what you get from this beer. It's not particularly boozy (once you get past the nose) and not especially thick in mouthfeel. But the complexity of malty flavors is quite nice. And it improves substantially as it warms (a benefit of my beer glass is that one doesn't have to wait too long for this to happen). A great winter beer.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Trip to Nashville, Tennessee

Last weekend we took a roadtrip to Nashville-- the one in Tennessee was our destination, though we passed through Nashville, Indiana, too. About a 4 1/2 hour drive-- not too bad.

We went to see a Bela Fleck and the Flecktones show. If you don't know me well enough to know (both of you out there), the Flecktones are my very favorite band. This was an interesting show, featuring the Nashville Symphony. First the symphony played some pops tunes, then the Flecktones came on and played some by themselves, then they played a few together, then some Flecktones, then more together. Not all the songs were signficantly improved by having a backing symphony, but several of them sounded really great. Now the countdown is on till the new 'Tones album is released...


More to the point of this blog, we had dinner Friday night at Bosco's in Nashville. This was a great walk down memory lane for me. While I lived in Memphis, Bosco's was my regular bar. The Memphis place was the original Bosco's. They then opened a brewpub in Nashville, then another one in Memphis, then they closed the original one, and finally they opened another location in Little Rock.

Bosco's is a remarkable place. They opened a brewpub in Memphis when most people there had never heard of microbrewed beer. They started out making fairly basic beers, including a very marketable "Flaming Stone Beer," based on a very old extinct brewing method.

They built up a following and then gradually expanded the palate of their customers, making more and more bold beers. They now make a lot of very good beer, including a lovely IPA and a great Scottish-style ale. They also have cask-conditioned beer every weeknight. The cask is tapped at 5:00 by a lottery-drawn cellerman, who gets a special glass, the first pint, and an invitation to an end-of-year party. This is a great promotion that more brewpubs should copy-- starting with my current regular place, Upland.

So I drank several cask-conditioned IPAs. Delicious. Also had a Wee Heavy Ale, which is an amped-up version of their regular Isle of Skye Scottish Ale. Oh, and the food is pretty good too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Latest batch of homebrew...

I tried a bottle of my "imperial porter" tonight-- first one I've had in several weeks.

I think it's improved substantially since the last one. This beer was brewed with a rather large amount (1/2 lb.) of molasses, and initial tastings found the molasses flavor to be very prominent, if not overwhelming. I hoped then that with some aging the molasses would blend in a bit more.

My hopes have been realized. The beer looked great (very nice head, good color), smelled excellent (some hops, even a bit of coffee?), and tasted nice. Still molasses, but much better balanced with good malt flavors and some hops. Smooth. I'm very happy with the way this beer has turned out.

Here's the recipe, for those who beer geekiness extends that far:

3.3 lbs. Light Malt Extract, 3.3 lbs. Amber, 3.3 lbs. Dark
1/2 lb. 60' L Crystal malt
1/4 lb. Cara Vienna Malt
1/4 lb. Carafa Malt
1/2 lb. molasses
3 1/4 oz. Saaz (boil)
1/2 oz. Saaz (finishing)
White Labs High Gravity Ale yeast (2 pt. starter)
O.G. 1.076
F.G. 1.027

Brewed 11/13/05, bottled around 12/1.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Trip to Indy

Just got back from a short trip to Indianapolis, where we visited (for the 2nd time) Buffalo Wild Wings downtown. Now if you're not an Indiana beer geek, you might be wondering why one would go to such a place looking for beer. I didn't manage to take home a menu, but here are a few of the beers I remember them having on tap today:

Bell's Double Cream Stout (hand-pulled, no less)
J.W. Lees Harvest Ale, aged in Sherry Casks (also on the hand pull-- more on this below)
Bell's Two Hearted
Bell's Sparkling Ale (Bell's calls it an American Triple-- I've had it in bottles and it's pretty interesting)
Three Floyds Robert the Bruce
Three Floyds Alpha King
He'brew Jew-belation (holiday ale-- very yummy)

Well, you get the idea. They have about 40 taps all together, and they're mostly like the ones I've listed (only a few crap beers).

They also have a bunch of bottled stuff, including several different "vintage" beers, like Bell's stouts from 4 or 5 years ago.

Now don't get me wrong-- the place looks just like you'd expect it to look (with the exception of all the taps behind the bar). It's thoroughly chain-restaurant, sportsbar, blech. But the beer. Oh, my, the beer.

They even serve their beer at true beer geek temperatures-- not too cold for the regular drafts, and positively cellar-temperature for the casks.

That JW Lees Harvest Ale is truly sublime-- creamy, tons of wood, some definite sherry flavors, ridiculously complex and smooth. It's worth the trip all by itself.

I also had Robert the Bruce (that's what I'm drinking in the photo) from the amazing folks at Three Floyds. It's a Scottish style ale, but like all Three Floyds beer it has lots of hops. Not sure I've had it on draft before. I definitely enjoyed it.

Then of course I stole samples from my drinking companions (my fiancee Daniela and our friend Ingrid). The Jewbilation was excellent (I'd had it this year in the bottle but it was definitely different on draft)-- lots of butterscotch, dark and rich with great complexity. And the Bell's Double Cream Stout was marvelous on the hand pull-- as the name might suggest, it's plenty chewy, outrageously malty, lots of crystal malt and other dark toasty roasty yumminess.

What a great place....